Red Cross to Twiddict: hands off our emblem, you naughty Twitter mashup!

Red Cross to Twiddict: hands off our emblem, you naughty Twitter mashup!

You may or may not know I’m one of the guys behind Twiddict, a simple service which allows you to keep tweeting even when Twitter is down, by saving your 140-characters or less messages and queuing them up for publication as soon as the microblogging service (sorry, global communication utility) gets back on its feet.

TwiddictWe received an e-mail today from the Office of the General Counsel of the American Red Cross, claiming that we need to stop using a red cross in our logo, because it violates their copyright. I’ll spare you the details, but basically, the only third parties allowed to use the red cross emblem in their logo are the ones that have been doing so since before the year 1905. For some reason, this list of third parties does not include any Twitter mashups.

The letter also says all Twiddict founders (myself, @tijs, @tomklaasen and @atog) are subject to be fined, imprisoned or both. Fortunately, the imprisonment would be less than 6 months in any case (phew).

All kidding aside, the letter provoked the following thoughts in my head, in this exact order:

  • “Huh?”
  • “Ah well, they kinda have a point, so we’ll change the colour of the logo or something to get them off our backs.”
  • “Wait a minute. Does (and should) the American Red Cross actively chase Web 2.0 mashups when they use a generic thing like a red cross emblem in their logos?”

They even included a corny brochure which should make us realize why we’re bad, bad boys for stealing their logo. You can check out the PDF from Scribd, if you’re interested.

The whole thing reminds me of T-Mobile ordering Engadget Mobile to stop using the color magenta, or Red Hat harassing the Data Portability Group for using a slightly resembling logo as Fedora.

I would love your take on this.

Should we comply and change the color to another shade of red (or remove the cross emblem altogether)? Or should we tell them this is kinda ridiculous and tell them to leave us alone?

Share your opinion in the comments, since we honestly don’t know what to do with it.

Update: we have replied to their e-mail with a couple of questions. For the record, we’re not trying to be bullies, we want to understand above all.

On a sidenote: last night, I was contacted by the ‘social media lady of the Red Cross’ via Twitter nonetheless, and she pointed me to a section of the Red Cross website where they dive into their social media strategy. As a consultant in this space, I was deeply impressed by how savvy their strategy on this really is.

Update 2: while we wait for a word back from the Red Cross, Tijs has already begun designing alternative logos and he kindly asks for your opinion.

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